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Orascom drops as Sawiris “not optimistic” on Algeria

January 24, 2011 • Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

Orascom Chairman Naguib Sawiris

CAIRO: Orascom Telecom Holding fell 4.3 percent on Wednesday, the most in more than two months. The slide came after Chairman Naguib Sawiris said Orascom, the largest mobile phone operator in the Middle East, will be unlikely to resolve its dispute with Algeria.

At the Cairo closing at 2:30pm on Wednesday, the shares had fallen to 4.26 Egyptian pounds, marking the largest fall since October 27. After the fall the company was valued at 22.4 billion Egyptian pounds (US $3.8 billion).

“We have had no response from the Algerian government,” Sawiris said. “They have not contacted us. They have not sat with us. They have not assigned a bank to value the company. I’m not optimistic.”

Algeria has fined Orascom’s Algeria unit more than $800 million in backdated taxes.

Orascom says the request is unjustified.

Speaking on Wednesday from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Sawiris said he is planning to seek arbitration against Algeria’s government.

Sallie Pisch, Cairo

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